Finding things to eat in Ulsan is not difficult; there are plenty of restaurants with varied cuisine and at least four major grocery stores in the area that provide many Western items. Some grocery stores even provide home delivery, but I haven’t found any websites in English to be able to successfully use this service.
Your first few trips to the grocery store will likely be overwhelming at the least, and possibly frustrating. If you have a Korean friend that is willing, take them with you on your second or third trip. Your first time through, you may want to take a peek through on your own to understand the layout and general types of products available. Then you can narrow down your questions and make your time with a local more effective. The four main stores we frequent are (click the names for links to location information):
Home Plus is the closest to us in Dong-gu, so when I’m feeling lazy, this is the place to go. (Note there are other Home Plus locations in Ulsan). There are four floors of items, everything from clothes and underwear to laundry supplies, storage containers, electronics (including large appliances) and a floor of grocery items including a lot of Tesco brand products for Western customers. I’ve found pasta, chocolate chips, powdered sugar, breakfast cereals, a reasonable cheese selection (though the other three are better), and standard proteins from frozen shrimp to fresh chicken breast and steak and pork. It is difficult to navigate the butcher counter without a local to translate the labels of the meat, so we’ve been guessing so far. That situation is similar at e-Mart, below.
I like e-Mart better than Home Plus, but being in Dong-gu, it’s a bit of a drive and much less convenient when I just need a loaf of french bread for dinner or something. The produce quality and selection is a bit better, and they even have a small organic section near the cash registers on the grocery floor. They also don’t have their jingle on repeat over the PA the entire time you shop like Home Plus.
Ulsan Foreign Mart
This is about 3 blocks southeast of the Lotte Department Store. Google searches and Google maps usually don’t turn up if you try to look for it, but the address is near 106 or 108 Hwahap-ro (Nam-gu) across from the Ulsan bus station. Look for a yellow sign with red letters near a Quaker Oats logo. The Foreign Mart stocks many non-Korean Asian items, including supplies for Vietnamese, Thai, Indian and Indonesian food. There is a selection of Western products, including several types of beans, pasta, baking supplies, tortillas, and they stock other uncommon produce such as avocados, limes and shallots. (Note: I’ve yet to find a red onion here, so this is the closest you get.) It is not the largest store, and they likely don’t carry everything you’re looking for at the best price, but when you just need your comfort foods, this is the place to go. I make a trip here once a week for fresh cilantro – the only place to get it!
This place is fantastic for all of your name-brand Western needs, but the down side is buying in bulk, especially for our family of two humans. (They do have a good brand of dog food, though, if you’re searching for a place to buy that.) Some of their stock rotates, but we’ve consistently found Starbucks coffee products, American cereals like Special K and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, familiar California wines and American beers, snacks like pretzels, chips and popcorn, and frozen items including spinach ravioli, Hormel maple bacon (amazing!), mozzarella sticks, and tilapia filets. Make sure you pay the membership fee to join (30 or 40,000 won) and have cash on hand (or American Express) for check out. They have a global ATM near the service desk (conveniently located at the exit!) for your first few trips before you set up a bank account.
Restaurants I’ve tried and enjoyed so far: